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NCL praises FDA crackdown on alcoholic energy drinks

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Release date: November 18, 2010

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Washington, DC – The National Consumers League (NCL), the nation’s oldest consumer advocacy organization, praised the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announcement yesterday that it would crack down on seven alcoholic energy drinks under recent scrutiny for combining large amounts of alcohol and caffeine. The products covered by the FDA action are manufactured by four companies and include the popular drinks Four Loko, Joose, Core, Max, and others. In September, nine college students in Washington State ended up in a hospital emergency room after drinking Four Loko.

“Products like Four Loko that combine large quantities of alcohol and caffeine in a single can or bottle can be a dangerous trap for young, inexperienced drinkers,” said NCL Executive Director Sally Greenberg. “Research shows that the caffeine makes drinkers feel less impaired than they really are, with potentially dangerous consequences. NCL applauds FDA’s decision to call for reformulation of these products or removal from the market before more people are harmed.”

“If only the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) would require Alcohol Facts on the labels of all alcoholic beverages, then consumers would know how much alcohol they are consuming,” Greenberg added. TTB is the federal agency that regulates labeling of alcoholic beverages.

In 2003, NCL and the Center for Science in the Public Interest petitioned TTB to require an Alcohol Facts panel on alcoholic beverage labels, comparable to the Nutrition Facts panel on food labels. The proposed Alcohol Facts panel would include the amount of alcohol per serving, alcohol concentration (percent alcohol by volume), the number of standard drinks per container, and the definition of a standard drink. TTB published a proposed rule in 2007 but has never finalized it.

“One can of Four Loko contains 4.7 standard drinks, the equivalent of almost five beers. If this information had been clearly stated on the label, maybe the college students who were sent to the emergency room in Washington might not have consumed so much that they suffered alcohol poisoning.”

“NCL wishes that TTB would be as proactive and as concerned with public health as its sister agency FDA,” Greenberg said.

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About the National Consumers League

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America's pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.